Brace problems

During your orthodontic treatment, we’ll support you every step of the way. We’ll carefully explain each stage of your journey and we’ll always be on hand if you have any questions. Most of our patients experience very few problems during their brace treatment, but rest assured if you do encounter any issues we’ll work hard to resolve them as quickly as we can.

Forewarned is forearmed, so with this in mind, here are some of the problems that can occur during orthodontic treatment.

1. My brace has a wire poking out

Fixed braces move teeth using small brackets, which are attached to teeth and then connected by a metal archwire. Occasionally, this arch wire can be slightly too long and irritate the inside of your mouth. Sometimes this happens as a result of your teeth moving, or your clinician may not have cut the wire short enough in the first place.

Each time you have your wire changed (around every six to eight weeks), make sure you have a feel around with your tongue and tell your clinician if anything feels uncomfortable so they can put it right straight away. If a wire causes you trouble once you’ve left the clinic, give us a call as soon as you can and we’ll arrange for you to come back in to have it trimmed. In the meantime, you can put some orthodontic wax over the end of the wire to give your cheek some respite.

2. My brackets are rubbing the inside of my mouth

You might find that just after your brace is fitted its brackets irritate the inside of your cheeks (or your tongue in the case of lingual braces). To relieve any discomfort, try placing some orthodontic wax over the brackets that are causing the irritation. If you’re really stuck, and don’t have any wax, a small piece of sugar-free chewing gum can help as a temporary measure. If you develop any sores, a gel that’s designed to help ulcers will help to relieve your symptoms. Be reassured that your mouth will ‘toughen up’ in a few days and the problem will resolve itself.

3. A bracket has fallen off my brace

If you look after your brace and avoid biting into anything that you’re not supposed to (crusty rolls, apples etc), your brackets should remain in place throughout your treatment. However, if one does become loose, get in touch with us as soon as you can so we can reattach it. Don’t try to pull the loose bracket off your brace’s wire yourself, this could damage the rest of your brace.

4. I’ve stained my brace

While the latest clear braces are fairly stain resistant, some appliances feature elastic bands, which connect the brace’s brackets and arch wire. Unfortunately, these can stain, particularly if they’re white or clear.

To stop this from happening, avoid foods that are likely to cause staining. These include curries, mustard, tomato puree, red wine – anything that’s highly pigmented. You should also brush your teeth regularly and drink water with meals to help wash away the risk of stains. Reassuringly, if you do stain your elastic bands these are changed every six to eight weeks, so you won’t have to suffer for long.

5. My teeth are stained around my brace

If you have a fixed brace and indulge in the wrong things during your treatment (see above), you can slowly, overtime stain your teeth. The change can be so gradual that you don’t even notice. Until your braces come off and you’re presented with a perfect white square in the centre of every tooth!

Prevention is key here – so be mindful of what you’re eating; brush and floss regularly; and continue to see your dentist for regular check-ups during your treatment. If the worst does happen, a thorough clean with a hygienist can help to remove surface stains and make the problem less obvious.

6. I have bad breath

Braces can make it trickier for you to clean your teeth, and they provide lots of extra surfaces for bacteria to grow on, both of which can result in bad breath.

If you’re suffering from bad breath and your braces are to blame, you probably need to step up your oral hygiene routine. Your clinician will be able to show you the best way to brush your teeth and braces. Dehydration is a common cause of bad breath, so keep hydrated too. Unfortunately, chewing gum isn’t compatible with braces, but sugar-free mints can be an effective way to keep your breath fresh during the day.

7. My teeth have become more crooked

Occasionally teeth get slightly worse before they get better. If you notice a gap appearing or a tooth moving in the wrong direction, don’t worry. Mention it to your clinician at your next appointment, but it’s probably part of the bigger plan. What’s more important is that your teeth are in the right place by the time your braces come off!

For more help and advice about braces, explore our blog. If you have any worries or concerns, get in touch with your dentist or orthodontist as soon as you can.